The Institute has been working to contribute to national conversations regarding community-based programming that impact individual and community health and well-being.
During the summer, the Institute collaborated with the University of Vermont Medical Center and Augusta Locally Grown, a local nonprofit in Augusta, Georgia, at the 38th Annual American Community Gardening Association’s National Conference in Hartford, Connecticut. The team shared best practices for re-inventing preventative healthcare in the United States through medicinal gardening. The national audience learned about the Institute’s integral partnerships with Baltimore City’s urban gardens and how pairing them with integrative programming in the Five Times a Feast and Mission Thrive Summer program models can help address health concerns throughout the community.
In the fall, the Institute presented in Boston, Massachusetts at the 2017 Society for Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE) America National Convention and Expo for educators, administrators and program managers from across the US. This presentation explored Youth Engagement Strategies for Healthy School Nutrition Environments: Case Studies in Baltimore. Increases in physical activity and improvements in diet quality were noted as impacts among the youth participants of the Mission Thrive Summer program. Similarly, the presentation also highlighted the positive shifts in healthy eating attitudes among students in the Spice My Plate intervention, which inspired the next phase of our Spice Education interventions. This phase revealed that the addition of spices and herbs to vegetables in the National School Lunch program coupled with student-led advocacy could influence a 27% increase in vegetable intake among students in an urban high school.
The Institute’s Mission Thrive community-based program platform is a tool to evaluate program models impacting community health and wellness in Baltimore City. Sharing these models provides valuable perspective to the national dialogue among leaders impacting individual and community health and well-being.